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Thad Szabo
Attended University of Pennsylvania
Lives in Los Angeles, CA
7,987 followers|386,312 views
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Thad Szabo

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Here's another way to wrap your brain around the size of the solar system compared to the size of the Milky Way Galaxy, which contains our solar system along with billions of others.
 
A Neat Trick to Understand the Size of the Milky Way

There's  a happy numerical coincidence that makes it much easier to contemplate the size of the Milky Way and other galaxies.  Here’s how it works…

Read more: http://oneminuteastronomer.com/5001/size-of-milky-way/
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Thad Szabo

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Another push to refine the cosmic distance ladder comes from the Hubble Space Telescope and one of the winners of the Nobel Prize for the discovery of dark energy.
 
Ultra High Precision Parallax Measurements From Hubble

The most reliable way to measure distances to stars and other objects is by using a method known as parallax.  Parallax is a straightforward direct measurement of the geometry of an apparent shift of background stars behind a foreground object that we want to measure the distance to.

Using the Earth's orbit as the baseline, tiny shifts can be recorded and used to calculate the distance.  You can see this effect yourself by looking at your finger held out at arms length and then close one eye and then the other.  The objects behind your finger (on the wall, say) will appear to move a little depending on which eye you are looking through.

The thing about parallax though is that it only works for stars relatively close to us.  The apparent shift of background stars becomes too small for objects far away.

That is, until now.

As usual, the +Hubble Space Telescope is breaking new ground in this old technique.  It has been used in a creative new way that allows astronomers to measure things ten times further out than previously possible, out to a distance of 7,500 light years.

Full story here:
http://hubblesite.org/newscenter/archive/releases/2014/23/

#hubblespacetelescope   #parallax   #astronomy  
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If there was still a space budget, it'd be interesting to try and push Hubble way out into the solar system (out of earth orbit, say out past Jupiter) to improve that baseline.
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Somehow I missed that +Fraser Cain posted this the other day. We shot this at YouTube Space LA back in November. Think of this again in the fall, when the Andromeda Galaxy is high overhead for most of the Northern Hemisphere.
 
Is Andromeda Drifting Towards Us?

In a Universe that’s expanding apart, isn’t it strange that Andromeda is actually drifting towards us? Dr. Thad Szabo from Cerritos College explains why this is happening.

Read more: http://www.universetoday.com/110925/is-andromeda-drifting-towards-us/#ixzz2xq0QljdG
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We're just so Milky Way centric. Anyway, everything's relative.
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I'm providing this for my current ASTR 102 students to discuss the latest episode of "Cosmos". The discussion of the end of stars' lives is very relevant to what we are covering in class currently. 
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Will we ever stop having solar eclipses because of the moon's motion away from the Earth?
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Thad Szabo
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Astronomy  - 
 
Peter Coles raises some legitimate concerns about the BICEP2 signal. I agree that for a discovery of this importance, the bar needs to be set very high.

Some of the issues he raises are alleviated by a full-sky survey like Planck; however, I don't know whether Planck is sensitive enough to discern a B-mode signal. We'll have to wait for the Planck CMB polarization results to be released later this year.
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Here's the broadcast of the lunar eclipse that +Scott Lewis conducted from campus tonight.
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I'm noticing a distinct lack of apocalyptic activity after the moon turned red 
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Math and geography converge for this post about which international (for the most part) airport is closest to any point on the globe. You know what I'm looking for? The points which are farthest from airports, as I imagine that these are going to get the least interference for long duration wide field shots for astrophotography.

You can interact with the globe and spin it if you click on the site. Check out the coverage in Siberia or Antarctica.
 
Which airport is closest to you?

The dots in this graphic by Jason Davies show the major airports of the world. Each region consists of the points that are closer to a particular airport than to any other. For example, the irregular pentagonal light green area containing Iceland (near the top of the picture) shows all the places for which Reykjavik is the nearest major airport.

Jason Davies' website (https://www.jasondavies.com/maps/voronoi/airports/) has an interactive version of this map, in which the airports are labelled. The globe can be spun and twisted, and you can zoom in and out.

The furthest place in the world from a major airport is in Antarctica, which is perhaps not a surprise given that there are no large airports on that continent. It lies 5173.7km from each of the three nearest airports.

Mathematicians call a picture like this a Voronoi diagram. The individual regions are called Voronoi cells, and the points (airports in this case) are often called sites. Wikipedia has a nice page on Voronoi diagrams here (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voronoi_diagram).

(Seen via +Marjolein Caniels.)

#mathematics
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That's a pretty interesting map, but for astrophotography, you need to know where and when the planes are flying.  The best place I've experienced have been not necessarily farthest from an airport.  In Namibia, for example, north of Eros airport in an area with some astronomy B&B places, in a week I recall only seeing a couple of planes at night, and both were a very, very long distance away.  That could have changed in 10 years, but probably not.
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From what I can tell, #Cosmos  tonight involves understanding light. If you're in my ASTR 102 lectures this semester, ask an astronomy related question on this post.
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+Aldo Solano Light of different wavelengths or frequencies -- or photons of different energies -- only change speed when they encounter charged particles to interact with, like inside glass in a lens or in water. In open space, there's nothing to make one photon travel a different speed than any other. And it's more than just the colors we see. All types of light, from radio waves to infrared light to ultraviolet light to gamma rays, all goes 299,792,458 m/s (about 670,000,000 miles per hour) in empty space.
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Amateur Astrophotography  - 
 
When I was in Joshua Tree last weekend, I tried some 5 minute exposures of the Milky Way through the Summer Triangle. The camera was side-by-side mounted with the telescope, so the exposures are tracked. This is my first attempt at wide-field, tracked shots with a DSLR. It makes me look forward to when I can plan these better and have the Milky Way at higher altitudes over the summer.

Cygnus is at the left toward the middle of the photograph. The region in the direction of the center of our galaxy is at the far right. Images shot in RAW mode at f/3.5 and 18.0mm focal length with a Nikon D80 at ISO 1600. Compositing was done in Microsoft ICE, and final processing in PS CS 5.1.
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Класс! )
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I haven't been on G+ much recently, so I don't know if anyone else has posted it. Peter Coles raises some legitimate points regarding the BICEP2 signal, and it will be good to see if the group that produced the result can address these. I agree that the bar needs to be set very high for the validity of this signal.

Some of the issues mentioned are alleviated by an all-sky survey like Planck, but I'm unsure whether Planck will be sensitive enough to detect the B-modes of polarization. Stay tuned for Planck polarization results later this year!
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We've all been waiting for more skeptical voices to emerge from the cacophony of media hype. What's wrong with these guys that they just couldn't wait to have their results peer-reviewed and accepted for publication before calling a mysterious press conference. 30 years they've been working on this problem, why the sudden rush to get the data into the public arena? 
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Have him in circles
7,987 people
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Faculty member in Department of Physics and Astronomy
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Los Angeles, CA
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Amateur professional/professional amateur astronomer
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Faster than a speeding Kuiper Belt Object. More powerful than a nebulous zephyr. Able to shoot deep sky objects in a single photon.
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  • University of Pennsylvania
    Physics, 1988 - 1993
  • Florida State University
    Physics, 1993 - 1997
  • University of Southern California
    Physics, 2004 - 2010
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